Dual-language controversy

An education story from the Yakima Herald-Republic this morning caught my attention. Parents and teachers in Wapato are seeking the removal of their superintendent following the elimination of a dual-language learning program.

The model is similar to what Walla Walla Public Schools offers at Sharsptein and Edison elementary schools. Children, both English and Spanish native speakers, are taught English and Spanish equally as they go through school.

The Yakima article, and the reader comments following it, are interesting. But what the comments leave out is that English-speaking children benefit from such programs by learning a second language at a young age.

In foreign countries, it is often the norm (at least in private schools) to teach children at least one other language as they go through school. The few years I spent as a child in Peru (a Spanish-speaking country) I attended a school where I was also taught English. A good friend of mine learned German. Other people I know learned Quechua, a native language.

Such local programs seem to be quickly tarnished because of the belief that they may hinder children’s ability to learn the country’s main language, English. But I would want to add the monkey wrench that having children who can read, write and speak two languages is a good thing.

Although some English Language Learner programs are not ideal, the dual-language programs seem to be popular and successful because of the equal dedication to both languages.

Any thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Dual-language controversy

  1. The overwhelming evidence supports teaching children multiple languages from the earliest moments. Children who learn a second or third language, not only have the benefit of knowing that language, but also end up performing better in their first language, and even in subjects such as math.

    We are fortunate to have the dual-immersion programs here in Walla Walla.

  2. What possibly could be wrong with expanding on children’s abilities to communicate cross-culturally? We all know that English is the primary language spoken in the U.S., however, Spanish is the second…So, it makes sense to educate children in both languages, doesn’t it then? Learning to speak a second language offers a multitude of benefits, such as, greater cognitive development, better listening skills and memory, an ability to communicate with more people, and “cultural pluralism.” By not supporting dual language programs, we are not supporting education, communication and other cultures. And are we are not respecting the differences that exist between various ethnic groups in the U.S. – My daughter attends the Edison dual-language program, and she loves it!

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